2011 has been a challenging year for many website owners. As Panda has continued to make clear, Google is serious about delivering quality content to its searchers. While it’s easy to spend a lot of time debating what is and isn’t quality content, there are some clear indications of what Google generally prefers.

Length is one factor that seems to be quite significant. In August, serpIQ ran an analysis of their database of 20,000+ keywords and front page results. As you can see from the screenshot below, the average content length for a Top 10 result is at least 2,000 words.

Average Content Length

Although this is obviously a cause of correlation and not causation, it does bring up an interesting question:

Why would Google favor longer content?

In general, longer content is going to be more comprehensive. If one website has 1,000 words about a topic and another website has 2,000 words about the topic, the latter is going to be able to cover more information than the former.

So, if your homepage is short on content, does this mean you just need to start writing whatever comes to your mind? Of course not! There’s a big difference between beefing up your content and filling it with fluff. Adding a bunch of nonsense to take up space isn’t going to help any visitors who are actually reading it.

While beefing up your content may seem like a really difficult task, there’s another reason you should be motivated to do it. Most conversion tests show that long copy converts better than short copy. This has been true since the glory days of direct mail, and it continues to be the case.

Since beefing up your content can help your rankings and your conversions, here are some tips for doing it the right way:

Start Answering Questions
: Open a blank document and start typing out all the questions a visitor might have when they come to a specific page of your website. Although it may take a bit to get warmed up, once you get rolling, you’ll find that you can generate a lot of good questions.

Once you have your list of questions, answer them. You can then add this useful information to the page you’re expanding.

Display New Posts: Just because your homepage is a landing page doesn’t mean you can’t showcase your latest posts. If you look at Copyblogger, you’ll see that the top of their site is devoted to their products. Then when you scroll down the page, they have a section for their posts.

If you’re using WordPress, this is very easy to do by creating a Sticky Post on your main page.

Address Multiple Point of Views: If you’re expanding an informational page, consider getting opinions and insights from multiple experts instead of just one.

If you’re working on a product page, talk about your competitors. Although some companies are afraid to even mention their competitors, if you can show visitors why you’re better than your competitors, you will be able to convert more of them into your customers.

Has the impact of Panda changed your content strategy?